Agent Spotlight: Mary Beth Murphy & Susan Lemkuil – Shimkus, Murphy & Lemkuil
Mary Beth Murphy & Susan Lemkuil
President & Executive Vice President, Murphy, Shimkus & Lemkuil Insurance & Real Estate, Hartford, CT
Murphy, Shimkus & Lemkuil is a sister-owned, second-generation independent insurance agency that also offers real estate services. President Mary Beth Murphy and Executive Vice President Susan Lemkuil bring a combined nearly 70 years of experience in the insurance industry to their valued policyholders and enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to learn more each day. Their parents, Charles and Patricia, remain active with the agency with their 95 combined years of insurance expertise.
Mary Beth Murphy, President
What is your general insurance background/career path? I graduated from Dartmouth College in 1983 Magna Cum Laude with Highest Distinction in Mathematics, having passed two actuarial exams, and started at Aetna in their actuarial program. After passing three more exams, I decided to take a step away in 1985 and see what the agency side was like since my grandparents had started an agency in 1934, and my father had taken over in 1961. I found it exciting and full of possibilities. At that time, it was mostly a Personal Lines agency with a real estate side, and I wanted to grow the Commercial Lines side since that was my background from Aetna. I could meet new people, learn about our clients’ businesses and feel like I was truly helping business owners succeed.
Why should people consider a career in insurance? It is an ever-evolving business, one that inspires you to never stop learning. I have been an agent for 37 years and I still learn something new every week. I have met and become friends with many people I never would have known if not for this career. Also, unlike so many other careers, our clients are not “one and done.” Ideally, we form long-term relationships with them and their renewals year after year form a stable income.
What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned, and how is it valuable to you today? It is important to respect and honor our staff. Without them, we wouldn’t have a successful business as they are often the first responders our clients speak with. We are blessed to have long-term employees who are like family to us. Second to that, we consider our clients our bosses – they also deserve respect and kindness, even if they are frustrated with a situation. Finally, we never burn bridges. A client that leaves for a year often finds that they want to return and our door is always open.
What charitable giving, environmental, or community projects are you involved in? I have been involved in my college’s alumni organization, volunteered in my church, held volunteer presidencies in two of our clients’ not-for-profit organizations, served on a local school board, and participated in my sister’s near and dear Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance. All have been rewarding and created opportunities in our business.
What unexpected skill or talent do you have? I am a Life Master in Bridge, play Omaha poker regularly and appeared on Wheel of Fortune because I love puzzles and games!
Susan Lemkuil, Executive Vice President
What is your general insurance background/career path? I graduated from Boston College in 1986 as an early childhood and special education major. Then I was a 3rd grade teacher in West Hartford Public Schools for five years. In the summers I would work at Shimkus Agency, owned by my dad, Charles Shimkus. Also, at night, I earned my Masters degree in Special Education from Saint Joseph University. In 1991, I took two years’ leave of absence to try the insurance and real estate business at Shimkus. I fell in love with it and resigned from teaching to pursue a career at Shimkus. I loved learning about the insurance business over my career and using that knowledge to help our customers protect themselves properly and competitively. I started off in the health and life department, a few years later, I switched to Personal Lines. It was exhilarating to assist and educate customers on what they needed for coverage, and to find the best coverage for the most competitive premium.
Why should people consider a career in insurance? A career in insurance is ideal. Every day I learn something new, even though I have been in the business for over 31 years. As a woman leading a company, I know I can make a difference to others and help my customers get the best service and coverage that they need. Insurance is such an exciting career with changes all the time. We have purchased several agencies, which has helped our company grow.
What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned, and how is it valuable to you today? Listening and respect to all is very important in leading a company. I am the role model for the staff and know that how I act will be how those around me will follow. We have an excellent staff who we treat like our own family. Our company strives to do the best for our clients and we respond immediately. As a woman leader, I know I can do great things and achieve to the highest.
What charitable giving, environmental, or community projects are you involved in? I am a 15-year brain tumor survivor. I am a board member for the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance, a non-profit organization that raises funds to give to Connecticut hospitals for research, patient funds and hope that someday they will find a cure. I also volunteer at my church and any other non-profit organization that needs help.
What unexpected skill or talent do you have? One of my skills is organization. In order for me to work professionally, I need to have plans that are highly organized. For hobbies, I love playing golf, watching movies, spending time with my family and traveling.
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